though each year left her more threadbare and rusty in her
black dresses, always found, somehow, the money to buy new
clothes and ribbons for the child. And, as her house decayed
and her own clothes grew more shabby, she became more
vain and overbearing in her relations with her neighbours.
She began to invent achievements and honours for her father,
but at first with such cunning, such casual references, and
such diffident parryings of curiosity that they were accepted
by all but the most wary. Then, as though emboldened by
success, she enlarged the scope of her inventions and began to
push back into an ever and ever more magnificent and fan-
Miss Buraham hated all the young men, whose sharp eyes,
even as she talked, always seemed to fix upon a cracked pane
or threadbare patch of carpet or, even, upon her red, chapped
hands. She hated them and was contemptuous of them, but
she hated Percy Munn most of all With her he was more
polite and attentive than any of the others were, but he was
also the most silent and watchful; and, from the very first,
she seemed to know that he was the one most to be feared,
that he was the one who would take May from her.
He married May after a courtship of two years. He could
have married her earlier, but he wanted to establish his prac-
tice and to have a little money ahead. Almost as soon as he
had returned from the honeymoon in Louisville, he sent men
over to put a new roof on Miss Burnham's house, and to paint
it He ordered them simply to go and begin work and to say,
if questioned by her, that the matter had been entirely
arranged. But while the men worked, she seemed oblivious
to them; and she never mentioned the matter to Mr. Munn
or, as far as he knew, to May. The roof and paint might, for
all she showed, have come like a natural event, a rainstorm or
the change of seasons.
"It's sweet of you, Perse," May said, "to be doing all that
for Aunt Lucy."
"I hate to see property going to pieces," he answered*
** And anyway, the place'Jl be yours some day, I reckon,"